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Greg Maddux stops in Vegas on way to Cooperstown

December 8, 2008 |  3:31 pm

Greg Maddux

LAS VEGAS -- Greg Maddux, en route to the Hall of Fame, made a brief detour to baseball's winter meetings today to "say thank you for everything." And when he left the microphone after taking 18 questions, he got a thank you in return when more than 100 usually cynical reporters broke into warm applause.

A four-time Cy Young Award winner, Maddux made his final appearance in relief for the Dodgers in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series at Dodger Stadium. But he made his decision to retire long before that.

"I think I decided actually two years ago," he said. "But I ended up playing one more year anyway. I pretty much knew last spring training. I had kind of told some teammates and some people in baseball that this was going to be my last year."

Making his retirement official, however, starts the clock ticking on the right-hander's five-year wait to become eligible for inclusion on the Hall of Fame ballot. But enshrinement is just a formality since Maddux, with 355 career wins, is eighth on the all-time win list. He has more wins than anyone who has appeared in a big-league game in 43 years.

"Somebody is probably going to win that many games again," he said. "You know, there might be some kid in seventh or eighth grade right now who will do it. Who knows? Or a young pitcher starting out right now that will do it."

Among the candidates Maddux named was former teammate Clayton Kershaw, the Dodgers' precocious 20-year-old left-hander.

"That's a guy that might be able to pitch for another 20 years," said Maddux. "There's always teammates that you played with that you think have an opportunity to do pretty special things. You just hope they want to. You hope that want to sleep, eat and drink baseball and do those kinds of things."

-- Kevin Baxter

Photo: Greg Maddux during a news conference today in Las Vegas. Credit: Ethan Miller / Getty Images